There are two types of insulating pieces: the single-function pieces an the do-all pieces. Single function pieces are things like Mountain Hardwear’s Ghost Whisperer, ultralight pieces that place all of their eggs in one basket. Then there’s something like the Thermostatic, also by Mountain Hardwear. It’s definitely in a different class of jackets, ones that are almost like multitools for the outdoors. In any case, that’s the impression that I’ve gotten from the Thermostatic over a testing period spanning between the soggy PNW fall and the frigid high desert winter.

Mountain Hardwear Thermostatic Jacket Features:

  • Thermal Q™ Elite 60-gram insulation keeps you warm and dry, 20D nylon fabric is light and tough
  • Compresses down and stows in its own pocket for unbeatable packability
  • When compressed, has a caribiner loop so it can be attached to a harness
  • Two hand warmer pockets are harness- and pack-compatible
  • Single chest pocket is harness- and pack-compatible
  • Elastane cuffs seal in warmth, block out weather
  • Dual hem drawcords for easy adjustments on the fly
  • Low-profile, insulated hood with elastane, for a snug fit
  • Weight: 10oz
  • MSRP: $220

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Thermostatic focuses on comfort and warmth

I should say, of course that focusing on warmth and comfort doesn’t mean the jacket doesn’t perform well. We’ll get to that. However, the obvious starting point for this review has got to be the Thermostatic’s fit — it’s so comfy. For reference, I’m 5’11” and weigh 185 lbs. I tested a medium, and the jacket fits quite well. It’s not athletic fit, mind you, but it never slumps into being what I would call baggy. The jacket sits nicely at the hips and between the generous cut and slick nylon, it falls back down easily after whatever movement you do with your arms. So it fits reasonably well underneath a shell, but not as well as a trim, athletic-cut jacket. However, for me the defining trait of this jacket is that it’s just terribly comfortable. I’m particularly smitten with the design of the hood. When you zip up the jacket and leave the hood off, it acts effectively like a nice cushy baffle around your neck to seal out drafts. It’s excellent. Sure, the hood is great when it’s on your head, but note that there’s no hood adjustment which can make the hood a bit unstable in gusty conditions.

For that matter, Mountain Hardwear intends for the Thermostatic to be a stand-alone piece in dry, cold weather. Naturally there’s a DWR and the synthetic insulation is robust in wet weather, but you wouldn’t want to wear it alone in precipitation. That fact should also point you to another fact about the Thermostatic, which is that it’s really quite warm. The 60 g of Thermal.Q Elite insulation does an excellent job, making this jacket comfortable as a stand-alone piece deep into the 40’s with only a light layer underneath, and capable of conquering 20-degree weather with an appropriate layering system. For 10oz, I was really quite pleased with how warm the jacket is. It also stops the wind quite well, which is nice.

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The Thermostatic also features two deep pockets for warming up your hands, as well as a zippered chest pocket. One of the hand pockets does double duty as a stuff pouch, which also has a carabiner loop for your harness. The sleeves terminate in elastane cuffs which seal out the weather and slide easily beneath gloves. There are also dual drawcord hems for a nice fit around the waist.

Mountain Hardwear’s 20D nylon deserves a word of its own, too. It’s a reasonably strong nylon, which is good, and it’s certainly more durable than the polyester that some companies are using in their synthetic puffies. What’s more, it’s wonderfully smooth and soft which helps the Thermostatic layer well and, indeed, helps it almost disappear into your layers. My one quibble with it is that it can feel sticky next-to-skin when you start to sweat. You should expect to sweat, by the way – The Thermal.Q Elite is simply not as breathable as the leading breathable synthetic insulations, so note that the Thermostatic is not designed to be an ultra-breathable piece like some others that are on the market right now. But boy, it’s warmer than those jackets and just as light.

The Good

  • Great warmth-to-weight ratio
  • The fit is comfortable, on the loose side of things
  • The hood feels wonderful around your neck when not being worn – seals cold out like a buff
  • Stuffs into its own pocket, which is always nice

The Bad

  • Falls more on the ‘warm’ end of the warm-breathable spectrum
  • Hood lacks any adjustments

The Bottom Line: Mountain Hardwear Thermostatic Jacket

In my mind, the chief boon of the Thermostatic is how wonderfully comfortable it is. There are slightly lighter jackets out there (though it’s quite good in this category) and there are certainly more breathable jackets, but I haven’t worn very many synthetic pieces that feel quite as good as the Thermostatic. It’s like putting on a big warm hug during pack-off breaks and on cold mornings at the crag.

Buy now: Available from Backcountry.com

The Verdict

7.8 Perform in comfort

The Thermostatic is a pleasure to pull on at just about any time. It's not the most breathable synthetic, but for the price and fit it's a strong competitor.

  • Comfort and Fit 10
  • Durability 8
  • Value 8
  • Warmth for Weight 8
  • Breathability 5

About Author

Kevin Glover is an outdoorsman living, climbing and biking in Spokane, WA. Originally from the Nevada high desert, he moved to the PNW for its mild winters and allergen-free summers. He has guided throughout the Cascades and Enchantments for Peak 7 Adventures.

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